DOMA Raises Prospects of Claims For FICA Refunds, Retroactive Benefits

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By Florence Olsen

The U.S. Supreme Court's June 26 decision on the Defense of Marriage Act might be a basis for seeking refunds of federal payroll taxes on imputed income and for claiming past benefit payments from qualified plans, but retroactive benefit claims are unlikely to be successful given the judicial history, a benefits attorney said June 28.

Refunds of federal payroll taxes--taxes that employers were required to withhold from imputed income for health care benefits for same-sex spouses--might be easier to claim retroactively than retroactive payments for same-sex spousal benefits that could not be claimed before the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA, Robert Newman, a partner at Covington & Burling in Washington, said during a Bloomberg BNA webinar.

The high court ruled June 26, in a 5-4 decision, that DOMA Section 3's exclusion of state-sanctioned, same-sex marriages from the federal definition of marriage “is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment” (United States v. Windsor, U.S., No. 12-307, 6/26/13) (124 DTR GG-3, 6/27/13).

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